Tavern 19

Tavern 19 on Hamlin NY, considers themself as one of the last great taverns. They serve wood fired dishes.

On my most recent trip to Rochester NY, I was looking forward to trying Tavern 19. The last trip I made to Rochester, I had a choice between Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta and Tavern 19. Fortunately, I selected Veneto’s. This trip I was determined to go to Tavern 19. I was hoping I would strike gold on two trips in a row.

Usually, the week prior to my trips to Rochester, the Production Team from Rochester and I discuss on our conference call where I am going to eat this trip. Of course, I ask for recommendations. I have to say the Production Team in Rochester is fairly good at picking restaurants for me. On this occasion they couldn’t have been more wrong.

I went to Tavern 19 on a Wednesday night. The place was empty for the most part. There was one other couple in the dining room and a group of people in the bar. So my expectation was good service and good food. It turns out I was expecting too much. My waitress was nice. She was very attentive. My only fault with her was that she couldn’t describe all the food items on the menu. After going through the menu, I settled on Steak Au Poirve.

Tavern 19 Steak Au Poivre
Steak Au Poivre

The description of their Steak Au Poirve sounded good. It was a little on the pricey side, but I felt like splurging for a good steak. Their interpretation of Steak Au Poirve was a 20 ounce cut of steak, Wine based Demi-glaze ,  with peppercorns and garlic. Sounded appetizing. I had a choice of sides, so I chose mashed potatoes.

When my meal arrived, the first thing I tried was the mashed potatoes. They were borderline cold and lumpy. In that first bite I picked up some of the Demi-glaze sauce. It was sweet, certainly not what I was expecting. So, I cut myself a bite of steak and soon discovered is was mostly gristle. I was not about to eat gristle, so I politely spit it out.  Strike two was having at least a third of the steak comprised of gristle. I was already not happy with the sweet flavor of the sauce; strike three came when biting into the crunchy burnt pepper corns, very unappealing. This steak was horrible. I only ate half of what remained after cutting away the gristle.

There should be no question as to whether I will ever return to Tavern 19 or recommend them. Have you been to Tavern 19 and had a better experience or have a favorite Steak House in the Rochester NY area, please leave a comment.

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern in Frederick, MD eclectic mix culinary experience.

Frederick Maryland’s old town has a thriving restaurant scene. Part of this restaurant scene is Firestone’s Culinary Tavern.   The best way to describe Firestone’s is that they are an eclectic mix of culinary experiences. My first impression was they are a fine dining restaurant, but after being seated I wasn’t sure. The service was excellent, but the meal was a roller coaster.

Firestones Smoked Bacon Starter
Firestone’s Smoked Bacon and Polenta Starter

After ordering our food and wine, the waiter brought out a Smoked Bacon and Polenta Starter. This little bite was quite good. My first thought this meal is starting off promising. My appraisal was enhance by their excellent selection of wines by the glass. My Riesling was a nice balance, not to sweet, not to dry. Their Pinot Grigio was not dry, pleasantly balanced.

Firestones Steamed Mussels
Firestone’s Steamed Mussels

The challenge of Firestone’s is when it came to the main course. My dinner guest had ordered Steamed Mussels and I ordered their Wagyu Sirloin. If you have been following my blog, you know how I feel about having to add salt to food, to bring out it’s flavor. The Steamed Mussels were bland. One of the pleasures of eating Steamed Mussels is lapping up the sauce with the Grilled Baguette. Unfortunately even salt could not help this sauce. I don’t know if our waiter said anything to the Chef, but he needed to know a patron was adding salt to his dish.

Firestones Wagyu Sirloin
Firestone’s Wagyu Sirlion

Now to flip the script, the Wagyu Sirloin was excellent. From my first bite to my last, I thoroughly enjoyed the Wagyu Sirloin. Cooked to a medium rare and seasoned to perfection. The Wagyu Sirloin was served over a Potato Pave, Haricot Vests, Roasted Carrots, and Cipolinni Onions.  To top this off, they drizzled a Port Wine Demi. Besides being cooked to perfection, the Wagyu beef was tender and had it’s unique flavor. This was the first time trying this steak. The steak lover in me could not get enough of this steak.

Firestones Salted Date Bread Pudding
Firestone’s Salted Date Bread Pudding

To finish off the meal we went with Firestone’s Salted Date Bread Pudding. The bread pudding was good, but it wasn’t as advertised. I couldn’t taste the Rum Butter Sauce and I’m not sure if there were dates in my bread pudding. The Vanilla ice cream was very good. The problem was the dish did not live up to my expectations.

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern  is not a place I will be returning to anytime soon. I’m not saying people should not try it, it’s just that there are too many restaurants in Frederick MD to try. Plus I want consistency in my meal. Have you been to Firestone’s? Do you have a favorite fine dining restaurant I should try? Leave a comment below.

The Bagel Baker

The Bagel Baker in Virginia Beach, VA is making New York style bagels.

Another list and another opportunity to see what someone believes to be the best. On this particular occasion I read a story on Microsoft Bing, that highlighted the best breakfast sandwich in every state. Once again, the restaurant or in this case the Bagel Bakery was within a short drive. So the Road Warrior in me, said lets’ check out The Bagel Baker in Virginia Beach VA and see what is so special about their breakfast sandwich. It was promising walking in the door. Not that I like standing in a line; but with most of the tables full and a line of people ordering, you would think the food was going to be good.

The Bagel Baker BB on Broadway
The BB on Broadway

The BB on Broadway was said to be the Best Breakfast Sandwich in Virginia. After trying it, I’m questioning the author’s judgement. The BB on Broadway comes with American Cheese, your choice of meat, a hash brown, and of course your choice of bagel. I decided to go with the Sesame Bagel and Italian sausage. I have no complaints about the bagel, you would expect a bagel shop to have good bagels. Where it starts to go bad, is that the sausage was over microwaved, and the hash brown was not close to being crispy. The sandwich was ho-hum at best.

The Bagel Baker Avocado Toast Everything Bagel
The Avocado Toast Everything Bagel

The Avocado Toast Everything Bagel was a tasteless mess. It is a shame when you have to add salt to food to bring out any flavor. Some people may enjoy a salad for breakfast, but this was supposed to be a sandwich. What made it worst, was they did not think to provide a fork or have forks available.

Once again, I’m left to wondering what was the criteria used to call the BB on Broadway the best Breakfast Sandwich in Virginia. I can honestly say that I will never return. It’s just not worth the drive. Now there was a lot of young families eating there. So you may want to judge  The Bagel Baker for yourself.

Have you been to The Bagel Baker? What is your favorite breakfast sandwich? Leave your comments below.

Ott House Pub

Ott House Pub has been gracing the streets of Emmitsburg Maryland for more than 50 years.

As a true Road Warrior, I find planning meals essential. Being hungry on the road leads to bad choices. I knew on the return trip from Hagerstown MD, I would want to stop and eat dinner. On the way to Hagerstown a few places  caught my eye, one in particular was the Ott House Pub, in Emmitsburg MD. So, on my way back through Emmitsburg, I stopped for dinner at the Ott House Pub. At first glance, everything seemed promising. Luckily I found a place to sit at the only remaining table. The waitress was quick to serve me a drink and bring me a menu. I was caught a little by surprise; the entree’s are primarily seafood. They do have a singular steak. Beside the steak and seafood, they also serve Pizza and Burgers.

OTT House Delmonico Steak
Ott House Delmonico Steak

I was looking for a meal and since I had seafood the day before, I chose their Delmonico Steak. Unfortunately, the best part of my meal was the baked potato. I prefer my baked potatoes plain with just butter. In researching what a Delmonico Steak should be, the only thing that is in agreement on the web is that a Delmonico Steak should be a thick-cut, high quality steak. What I was served was neither thick-cut or high quality. Of the 12oz’s, a good portion was fat or just tough. The steak wasn’t all bad. It was cooked to a medium rare. The seasoning was spot on, so it didn’t taste bad, just not something to write home about.

When traveling, there are times when time is not an issue, and you want to kick back for a meal. The Ott House Pub  let me down. Looking at the reviews on Trip Advisor, I would have thought the people that left the reviews were eating at a different place. My recommendation is changing the name of the steak on the menu. Calling it a grilled steak lowers expectations. I still would not have been happy, but I would not have been searching the web to find out what a Delmonico steak should be.

Don’t let my review be the last word on the Ott House Pub. They have received 32 reviews on Trip Advisor that were mostly positive. Scattered in the positive reviews were reviews left by people like myself that did not enjoy their meal. Have you been to the Ott House Pub. Leave a comment and let me know how you feel.

Hub City Diner

The spark for this trip came from listening to Fox and Friends. They went to the Hub City Diner in Hagerstown Maryland for a segment they call Breakfast with Friends. So the question becomes, what was the host raving about when it comes to Hub  City Diner, is the food really as good as they say it is? I decided to drive the long route there, which took me through a section of Maryland and Pennsylvania I have never seen. I was captivated by rural Maryland and the beauty of the rolling corn fields. The drive definitely help set my expectations for my breakfast to come.

Deep Fried French Toast
Deep Fried French Toast, Hub City Diner

Deep Fried French Toast! With my love of French Toast, I had to try it. Deep Fried anything has to be good, right? To complete my breakfast I ordered scrambled eggs and bacon on the side. I have spoken in the past about eating with your eyes, so when my breakfast arrived, I wasn’t overly impress. I give them an ‘E’ for effort when it came to plating. Still my hope was bite into the French Toast and have a crispy exterior with a moist, tender center. Unfortunately, it was OK, but not to my expectation. For the most part the French Toast was dry. Honestly, cooking the French Toast the standard method might have made it more appetizing.

Scrabbles eggs, so easy to prepare, so hard to screw up. That is unless you serve them cold. Enough said. The best part of my meal was the peppered bacon. The bacon was cooked just right. I like bacon on the thicker side. Their bacon was just that, plus it wasn’t over cooked or dripping with grease. It was a pleasure to eat and saved breakfast for me.

In the case of Hub City Diner it was the drive not the destination. Was I led astray by Fox and Friends, I don’t know. Hub City Diner could have put on one hell of a show and then went back to their standard way of doing business. Having one meal is not the best way to past judgement, but I will not return for a second. I say this because I saw what the other diners were being served and nothing said to me you have to come back and try that.  I leave it up to you whether you want to visit Hub City Diner or not.

Dutch Corner

I have passed the Dutch Corner Restaurant several times; each time, I tell my self I need to try it. So today I ventured in. If you read the reviews on Tripadvisor.com, you would have the impression that this is a great restaurant, you are in for a real treat. I must have choose a bad day. First of all, there was no one at the front door, so I wondered around to find someone to tell me, that you seat yourself. Then I waited another 10 minutes, until I got up and asked a waitress for a menu. Even though I was seated in her section, she did not realize I was there. I have to say, once she knew I was seated in her section, she was highly professional and very attentive.

DC Interior 1
Dutch Corner Dining Area

I like the interior of the restaurant. There are two main seating area’s and a section of dinner style counter seating. The rustic look was a plus. The restaurant is clean. Tables were immediately bused as patrons left.

DC Hamburger 2
Dutch Corner Hamburger

The Dutch Corner Restaurant seems to be geared towards breakfast. Their menu has a large selection of breakfast choices. I stopped in at 11:30, so lunch was on my mind. I was almost swayed to change my mind after watching the meals other patrons were served. Staying the course, I ordered the Dutch Corner Cheese Burger. In their description, they state they make the burgers in house. So, I had fairly high hopes of a juicy, tasty burger.

Looking at the picture you might notice that there is no cheese, Strike one! Not receiving what I ordered was a major turn off. If you read what they say about themselves on their website, they talk about home made food. I have written about eating with your eyes, my eyes said “Boring,” Strike two! The burger reminded me you buy frozen out of the supermarket meat section.  A little salt and pepper would have helped. The fries were good.

To give Dutch Corner a fair review, I ordered the burger the way it is shown on the menu.  I say this because I am not a fan of mayo on burgers.  They serve their burgers with mayo, I’m ok with mayo on a burger only when, the burger is full of flavor, a higher quality beef, and seasoned properly.

There may be a time I will try Dutch Corner again. As I state earlier, the breakfast dishes looked really good. Not having any prior knowledge of this restaurant, may breakfast is their thing. The reviews I read on Tripadviser.com are all positive, so I may have to come back and order breakfast some morning.

I can’t recommend Dutch Corner Restaurant. Even though, I may go back at a later date and try their breakfast. If I do I will update my review.

Sogo Japanese Steakhouse

Teriyaki Steak, Perfectly cooked, thinly sliced, medium rare.

It is said you eat with your eyes. I believe this to be true. This can also be true when your are looking for a place to eat when you are on the road. I questioned whether I should try Sogo Japanese Steak House. The exterior should have gave me clues about the quality of the food served inside. Then again, there are a lot of strip mall restaurants that are fantastic. Walking in Sogo’s, it had a modern appeal. Neon lighting setting the mood, with the classic Japanese decorations.

I was immediately seated by a friendly host. My waitress made sure I had a menu as soon as I was seated. So my initial concerns were fading.

Sogo Teryaki Steak

The menu was limited. Being advertised as a Japanese Steakhouse, I did not expect Sushi to be the predominate option. Given I don’t eat fish, I focused on their grilled options. Usually when I eat in a Japanese restaurant, I order Gyoza as an appetizer. With this comes certain expectations. When my waitress returned, I ordered hot tea, Gyoza, and Teriyaki Steak.

My first  surprise was when the tea was served, there was a tea bag in the cup, instead of the traditional pot of tea. I was even more surprised when the Gyoza was served. At first glance I wasn’t sure why they thought it was a good idea to serve on a tray that you could have mistaken for something out of a diner. Secondly, the pieces were over cooked. I like my Gyoza a little crispy, but… I mention certain expectations; I know what Gyoza tastes like. The flavor of their Gyoza was off. It could have been because it was over cooked or maybe the oil they used.

Back to eating with your eyes; when the main course arrived it looked good and I couldn’t wait to try the teriyaki steak. Not only was the steak good, but some of the best teriyaki steak I have ever had. Perfectly cooked, thinly sliced, medium rare. The teriyaki sauce was well balanced, not overpowering. The steak was a little on the pricey side,  but it was well worth the price. The steak could have saved the meal if it wasn’t for the bland fried rice. It is just wrong to have to ad soy sauce to a dish to give it flavor.

I cannot recommend Sogo Japanese Steakhouse. I know I am a picky eater, but I the side dishes are just as important as the main dish. If you are looking for better than average teriyaki steak, then Sogo Japanese Steakhouse may be what you are looking for.